California Attorneys for Professional Misclassification Disputes

What Are the Requirements for a Professional Employee Exemption?

A professional exemption misclassification violation is just one of many types of unjust or prejudicial treatments employees face on the job and that we fight in court. For more about our Employment Law legal services, please see our “California Employment Law Attorney” page. Or for other types of employee work-related issues we fight for our clients, see the links to the right.

Professional exemption applies only to highly skilled/educated employees who are engaged in a learned or artistic profession where they perform work that is primarily intellectual or varied in character (lawyers, doctors, dentists, architects, engineers, and similar occupations).

The employee must meet ALL of the following requirements to fit within the exemption:

  1. Earnings Test
    The employee earns at least double the minimum California wage  (at least $37,440 per year)
  2. Professional Duty Test
    The employee must spend at least 50% of their time engaged in professional duties that are defined as:
    • Licensed or certified by the state of California and is primarily engaged in the practice of one of the following recognized professions: law, medicine, dentistry, optometry, architecture, engineering, teaching, or accounting; or
    • Primarily engaged in an occupation commonly recognized as a learned or artistic profession. “Learned or artistic profession” means an employee who is primarily engaged in the performance of:
    • Work requiring knowledge of an advance type in a field or science or learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction and study, as distinguished from a general academic education and from an apprenticeship, and from training in the performance of routine mental, manual, or physical processes, or work that is an essential part of or necessarily incident to any of the above work; or work that is original and creative in character in a recognized field of artistic endeavor (as opposed to work which can be produced by a person endowed with general manual or intellectual ability and training), and the result of which depends primarily on the invention, imagination, or talent of the employee or work that is an essential part of or necessarily incident to any of the above work; and
    • Work is predominantly intellectual and varied in character (as opposed to routine mental, manual, mechanical, or physical work) and is of such character that the output produced or the result accomplished cannot be standardized in relation to a given period of time; and
    • Customarily and regularly exercised discretion an independent judgment in the performance of duties set forth above (meaning that the employee compares and evaluates possible courses of conduct and makes a decision after the various possibilities have been considered free from immediate direction or supervision with respect to matters of significance).


Paralegals, nurses, pharmacists, drafters, and machinists are typically not exempt, and employers must be cautious not to misclassify employees as exempt if they have not yet received their license from the state.  Physicians and surgeons who perform duties for which a medical license is required are exempt from overtime only if paid at least the minimum hourly rate set by the state of California on an annual basis.

Have You Been Misclassified? We Can Help You.

The law firm of Venardi Zurada LLP provides free initial consultations for misclassification employment issues throughout the California. We are experienced employment lawyers  who fight hard for our clients.  If we are able to take your case, we pay all litigation costs. We only get paid our costs and attorneys’ fees if you get compensation.



If you are an employee who feels their rights have been violated, or you need help negotiating or reviewing your employee contract, please call to speak to one of our expert employment law attorneys at (935) 937-3900 or submit the form to the right.

When litigation or mediation is involved, and we are able to take your case, there is never any fee or expense to you of any kind until you get paid! That means we pay all litigation costs which you will not be required to pay back, and we only get paid if you get paid.

We have four offices to serve you in Oakland, Orinda, Redding and Chico, and serve clients throughout the entire California including the entire Silicon Valley and throughout California.












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President, Phoenix Logistics Inc.